Most of us are always on the lookout for great investments. We know that there are some that are “sure things” but they usually don’t pay as much interest. Others that claim a huge return are generally too good to be true, and they end up being ponzi schemes or another scam. I’m happy to say that this investment is NOT a scam. In fact, this investment is how millions of people around the country have accumulated their wealth. Keep reading as your accountant and payroll specialist explains how you can take a mere $10,000, and turn it into millions.




Your $10,000 Investment

The best part about this investment is that you don’t even have to have all $10,000 right up front. Instead, you can pay a little now, and the rest over time as you earn more money. Here’s the real deal though.

Traditionally this investment has run $50,000-$250,000. Many people have made these investments only to see low level returns coming in, or even long periods where the investment didn’t pay off at all. Much of that is changing as the years go one.

What is that $10,000 Investment?

That investment is an alternative to the traditional college approach. As tuition rates continue to rise and college is becoming less and less affordable to individuals, there is a new alternative. This alternative is a boot-camp style educational program that is designed to help people achieve the training they need, without the massive amounts of college debt.

Consider it like this: for $10,000 you attend a training program that lasts about 12 weeks (that’s 3 short months). When you are done, you have all the skill and expertise that you need to enter into a highly technical position. Some of these trainings prime you to get hired as an app developer with a starting salary of $70,000 per year (over 20 years that $70k will bring you over $1 million). No huge debt to be burdened with, a skill set that is in high demand and a job that is sure to grow over the coming decades.

Making Your $10,000 Investment

Yes, this is not an investment in the traditional sense of the word. You have to invest the money to train yourself and become more of an asset to the business community. However, when all is said and done, you are in the perfect position to earn a great income for the rest of your working career.

As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to have $10,000 all at once. Suppose you can work hard and get together $1,000; that is the perfect down payment. You can finance the rest of the education costs. The best part is that with your new job, paying off your student debt in a year or less shouldn’t be any issue (try doing that with $200,000 of debt from a traditional 4-year college; it can be done, but it’s hard).

Practical Taxes Has Your Back

When you do start making a good income with your new job, you will want to hire an accountant. We will be there for you. Instead of wasting your now much more valuable time trying to figure out your taxes, just bring everything in and we will do it all for you. Of course if you want to use your new skills to branch out on your own and start a business, we will be there for business consulting, payroll services, and much more.

taxesTax code, investment laws, and savings programs change every year. If you aren’t keeping up, you may be missing out on some important changes that can have a dramatic impact on your finances. Most of us know about the big changes, like the tax implications of the Affordable Care Act. But there are a lot of smaller changes that don’t get as much press. Here are 4 of those changes that went into effect this year. Your payroll services expert in Billings, MT explains how they can make a huge difference on your finances.



Retirement Plan Limits Increase by $500

If you think that you have maxed out your 401(k) or 403(b) plan, you might want to look again. In 2014 the contribution limit was set at $17,500 with a $5,550 catch up for those who are aged 50 and above. Those limits have changed and you can now put in $18,000 and catch up an additional $6,000 if you are over 50 years old. The best part is that any money you put aside won’t be taxed until you take it out.

For those who don’t have access to a 401(k) or 403(b), but you do have a different employer sponsored plan, there is still good news. The limits on nearly all of the employer sponsored plans are increasing by $500-$1,000. The bad news: IRA’s are still at the $5,500 they were at last year.

Standard Deduction Increases by $100

When you file your taxes you get the choice of itemizing your deductions, or taking the standard deduction. Depending on your living situation, how much you give away throughout the year, and other factors, you may benefit from one or the other.

For those who don’t have a lot of deductions throughout the year, there is good news. They get an extra $100 ($200 if married) to write off. This brings the deduction up to $6,300 for a single filer, and $12,600 for a married couple.

Social Security Recipients Get a Raise

If you collect social security, you can rejoice… sort of. Your cost of living increase bumps up your benefit by 1.7%. For the average recipient that means $22 extra per month. Not a lot, but can make a big difference to those who have this as their only source of income.

Since the Social Security program is running out of money, or at least that’s what many believe, they need to bring in some extra cash. The upper limit on what is taxable for social security has also increased by 1.3% going from $117,000 to $118,500.

Obamacare Penalty Will Double

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law a few years ago now. But only last year was the penalty enforced for not having insurance. Last year it was just 1% of your income, or $95 (whichever is greater). Considering that most people make over $9,500 per year, the penalty is essentially 1% of your income.

In 2015, that penalty bumps up to 2%, or $325 (whichever is greater). Again, most people make more than $16,250, so that penalty is essentially 2% of your income.

If you make $50,000 per year, you will owe $1,000 in penalties if you don’t have insurance. It’s still cheaper than buying insurance, but why take that risk?

Practical Taxes is Up To Date on the Laws

Here at Practical Taxes we are a full services accounting firm in Billings, Montana. That means we have to stay up-to-date on these tax laws, and that means you get the benefit of our knowledge. Whether you are looking for someone to help with quarterly tax filings, yearly tax preparations, payroll services, or business consultation, we are here to help. Give us a call at 406-894-2050 to make an appointment today.

budget-289x300There are three types of people: those who budget every single dollar, those who have a rough idea of their spending, and those who don’t budget or track anything at all. Each method fits a different personality, and often those in their particular budgeting mindset aren’t very happy with where they are. The extreme budgeters wish to lighten up a little; the non-budgeters wish to track their spending a little better. If you fall into the second category, I have good news. Your payroll services specialist in Billings, Montana will show you how to create a simple budget in just 4 easy steps.





Gather Your Data

Before you can get started with your budget, you need to know where your money is going. Now this can be as in-depth or as loose as you want it to be, but you need to make sure to include some major expenditures. Here are some places where you likely spend to get you started thinking:

  • Mortgage or Rent
  • Utilities – Phone, gas, electric, water
  • Food
  • Oil and gas for the car
  • Insurance(s)
  • Entertainment – eating out, movies, concerts
  • Savings/Investment


Your spending may look different, but you need to look back at the last month or two and see where your money goes. If most of your purchases are in cash, and you don’t have receipts, then you will have to fill in these categories as you complete the next step.

Write Down Expenses

For the next couple of months, you need to track all of your expenses. This means every single time you buy something, write down what it was and which category it falls into (the categories that you made in step one). This will get you a precise look at where your money is actually going.

The easiest way to do this is to simply keep your receipts. If you don’t get a receipt, like after getting gas, snap a picture of the pump so you know how much you spent. Then, each evening, spend 10 minutes recording where all of the money went.

Tweak the Budget as Necessary

For many people sticking to a budget is hard to do. And that is because they tend to overspend on one area of their budget. You are spending a certain amount each month, but many people need to tweak their budget to get things like savings boosted up, and cut back in other places.

One of the easiest ways to save is to negotiate certain expenses. For instance, call your internet provider and tell them you aren’t happy with the service and you will likely switch. Tell them if you can have the introductory price for the next 12 months you will stick around. This will save you about 30% off your internet service.

Earn More on the Side

If your budget is all out of whack, you have cut back as far as you can, and you still seem to be spending more than you earn, the only other option is to earn more money. That can be done easily by picking up a side job, or starting your own side hustle: you may remember reading about a side business.

Practical Taxes

When your side hustle takes off it could replace the income from your regular job. When that happens, come see us at At Practical Taxes. We are a full service accounting firm in Billings, MT; we offer payroll services, business consultation, tax preparation, and a host of other services to make your life easier. Call us to learn more 406-894-2050.

Automation-300x144Successful people all have this in common: they are highly focused on the things they do well. They don’t worry about the little things, they outsource the items that they aren’t good at, and they make systems that take care of everything so that they don’t have to worry about the little things. Are you automating? Your payroll services specialist in Billings, Montana explains how automation can grow your net worth, increase your productivity, and retain your sanity.

What is Automation?

Basically speaking, just about everything can be put on autopilot. Most of your bills have the option to pay automatically every month. Most of your savings accounts can be set up to transfer money every month. In fact, most people are already being paid via direct deposit (automatically) every month. Letting computers do the work allows you to focus your energy and efforts elsewhere.

Benefits of Automation

Have you taken the time to see what the penalty is for paying your bills late? Chances are that you haven’t; most people don’t. For most mortgages, if you pay late, you owe an extra $35. Credit cards are usually about $20. Utility bills often give a grace period, but can be 2% of the bill (or $5 whichever is more). These costs add up quickly, and a couple of late payments each month can result in charges of $100 or more.

When you automate your finances, you don’t have to worry about paying anything late. All you have to worry about is making sure that you are working hard in order to bring in enough money to make sure there are no overdrafts when those automatic payments go out.

But the benefits go beyond just paying your bills. You can automate your savings and your investments as well. The reasons are clear: humans are silly and fickle. There have been multiple studies around that show if left to our own willpower to save and invest, most of us will forget at least a couple times per year. This means you will lose out on a lot of savings and investments over the course of your life. However, if you take the emotions, willpower, and decisions out of it, then your automated savings and investing are doing the majority of the work for you.

For those who are business owners, there is more to it than just automated bills and investing. You can also automate services and chores. For instance, your payroll can all be automated. You just confirm the numbers with your accountant in Billings, Montana, and then paychecks are all done for you (or direct deposits). No worry, no mistakes.

Practical Taxes

Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm right here in Billings. We can help you meet your business goals through consultation, payroll services, tax preparation, and much more. By taking these things off of your mind, you can focus on the things that you do best: and the things that bring in the most money. Call us today at 406-894-2050 to learn more.

Time-Clock-300x225Business owners that have employees understand that those employees represent their biggest expenses. When the right employee is on board, that employee earns the company much more money than trying to go without them, but they still end up costing a lot of money. It turns out that they may end up costing the company even more money if they are required to work overtime. Your payroll services specialist in Billings, Montana explains how.




Overtime Laws and Pay Back Then

It has been a little over a decade since the laws have been restructured, and many advocates think it is time to have them redone. This means there will be a big change.

The Fair Labor Standards Act has a certain set of rules when it comes to paying your employees. The laws, as determined in 2004, state that if you have an employee that earns less than $23,660 per year (based on 40 hours per week), they are non-exempt. You must pay time-and-a-half for any hours worked over and above 40.

Naturally there are some exemptions to that rule. Commissioned employees, salaried employees, drivers, babysitters, farm and seasonal workers, and a few others are not subject to those rules.

Overtime Laws and Pay Now

Sometime this month there will be some major overhaul of those laws. Instead of that $23,660 cap, many are pushing to move that to $42,000. But the idea is to make it a little more complicated than that. Instead of a single cap, it will be tiered and have 2 higher tiers.

What this means for business owners is that they have a couple choices. They could pay the overtime as necessary; they could salary their employees; or they could bump their employees up and over that $42,000 cap. It’s a decision that each business owner must make for themselves.

Nothing is completely set in stone, and even if the laws do pass sometime this month, we will have a little time before they fully go into effect. But it does mean that some businesses will need to make big decisions; those decisions could have a drastic impact on their employees. For instance, limiting the number of hours so there is no chance of overtime.

What You Can Do as a Business Owner

In order to prepare for these changes, and the likelihood of things changing is great (we just don’t know exactly what the changes will end up being), you need to do an audit of your employees and their hours. If your employees are regularly working over 40 hours per week, it may be advantageous to hire more employees to spread out the workload. If your employees are very close to that $42,000 cap, then perhaps it will be best to just give them a raise and push them over that line.

Practical Taxes can Help

Here at Practical Taxes we know the payroll structures, and we know the laws surrounding them. We are a full service accounting firm, and we are able to make sure that your business is functioning following all of the laws. If you don’t want to deal with any of these new laws, just let us do your payroll for you. You will be pleasantly surprised at how affordable it is. Give us a call today at 406-894-2050 to learn more.

Business-is-Failing-e1433276166382-300x226Nobody likes to fail. That’s a given. But sometimes when you are in business you struggle and things feel like they are never going to turn around. If you keep doing what you have always been doing, then it’s true: things won’t turn around. However, if you can discover your weakness and eliminate it, then you can thrive again. Your accountant in Billings, Montana explains 5 of the most common reasons that businesses fail.




Your Business is Failing Due to No Website Optimization

Just a couple decades ago people would open up the phone book to find a company that they needed. A large print ad would do wonders for your business. Now those same people (and the subsequent generation) will open up Google and type in what they need (for instance, people search for “Accountant Billings, Montana”). Your business may be struggling because you have yet to optimize your website so that you show up at the top of the search results.

Your Business is Failing Because you Charge too Little

Pricing your product or service is tough to do. On the one hand you want to price it competitively because you want people to come to you rather than your competitor. But on the other hand you want to charge enough so that people take you seriously: too cheap and you may be seen as fly-by-night or that you don’t know what you’re doing. Here’s something to consider: would you rather have 100 clients that pay $5 each, or 5 clients that pay $100 each? The clients willing to pay more are generally easier to deal with.

Your Business is Failing Because You are Selling the Wrong Product

I’m not saying that instead of selling widgets you should be selling gadgets. Nor am I saying that instead of providing accounting services you should be providing computer repair services. I’m saying that you are selling to what you want instead of what your customer wants. Bad: We are the best accountant around and we can do your taxes quickly! Good: Your time is valuable, we will prepare your taxes while you are out golfing; all you do is sign the documents! Focus on the customer and they will focus on you.

Your Business is Failing Because You’re Bad at Marketing

There is a common misconception that says as a startup business you have to do it all: tech repairs, website optimization, marketing, accounting, payroll, etc. People seem to think that doing it themselves means that they will save money. And they do, but they waste time. Instead of trying to be an expert at marketing, hire that out. You can then focus on serving the new customers that come in.

Your Business is Failing Because You are Trying to do it All

Tying in with the bad marketing idea, the same applies for all areas of your business. You went into business because you were good at what you did. Now you are trying to be a business owner and you are neglecting the activities that got you into business in the first place. Instead of trying to do it all, you need to hire out things that sap your time (like computer repair, marketing, and bookkeeping) so that you can hone your skills and bring in more money.

Practical Taxes Can Help

If your business is struggling, you likely need some outside help. Here at Practical Taxes we have a deep network of individuals that can provide services so that you can focus on what you do best. Let us worry about the accounting, and we can bring in people to help with other aspects of your business.

Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm here in Billings, MT. We offer everything from tax preparation, to payroll services, to bookkeeping. We can take the burden off you so you can run your business.